It’s Barcia Again In Supercross Opener

0
507
Justin Barcia (51) battles Ken Roczen inside Houston's NRG Stadium. (Feld photo)
Justin Barcia (51) battles Ken Roczen inside Houston's NRG Stadium. (Feld photo)

HOUSTON — Justin Barcia kicked off the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship season with a win in the 450SX class inside NRG Stadium, marking the third time in series history an opening round was hosted in Texas.

A restricted-attendance audience of 10,830 race fans, clustered in pod seating by families and groups, cheered Barcia’s incredible third-consecutive opening round victory.

Barcia fought off Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen for nearly the entire race while Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin returned to Supercross with a solid third-place finish.

In the Eastern Regional 250SX Class, a division that traditionally begins later in the season, Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Christian Craig started 2021 with his first victory in five years.

It had been 25 years since the Monster Energy Supercross series kicked off outside of California, and coincidentally 25 years since a rider had won three consecutive opening rounds (Jeremy McGrath in Orlando), but in Texas Justin Barcia, in his 100th Monster Energy Supercross start, cemented a place in the history books by grabbing the victory of what was the debut race for the GASGAS team and GASGAS Supercross machine.

At the gate drop, Musquin got the holeshot on the 22-rider field, but Barcia squeezed into the lead immediately. Honda’s Ken Roczen worked his way through the top five to reach second place with over seventeen minutes left on the race clock; Roczen stayed close, and with five minutes and one lap remaining launched three intense pass attempts.

Barcia held his composure and track position, forcing Roczen to eventually settle for the runner-up spot.

The Eastern Regional 250SX class kicked its season off with great racing excitement. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s R.J. Hampshire nabbed the holeshot but his time at the front lasted less than one minute before Christian Craig got past and pulled away to a comfortable lead.

Behind, Hampshire battled hard to stay up front, but Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner got past just after the midway point, and Craig’s teammate Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Colt Nichols made his way into a podium finish after rounding the first lap just inside the top five.